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Extra commissioner set to oversee children's services at Northants

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An extra commissioner is to be appointed to oversee improvements to Northamptonshire CC’s children’s services, it has been announced this afternoon.

Former Rotherham MBC and Sandwell MBC commissioner Malcolm Newsam has been earmarked for the role.

Additional capacity has also been drafted in from Lincolnshire CC with a view to providing Northamptonshire with additional practical support and improvement advice.

This comes after Ofsted inspectors reported today how they found services for vulnerable children in Northamptonshire have “significantly” declined in the last two years amid financial uncertainty at the county council.

In a written ministerial statement published Tuesday afternoon, housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire said Northamptonshire’s commissioners had written to him and education secretary Damien Hinds “to highlight their concerns about children’s services, recommending that an additional commissioner is appointed to strengthen the government intervention in this area”.

He said there was agreement between all partners “that we should act swiftly to strengthen the focus on children in the current intervention, by appointing an additional commissioner to the existing commissioner team”.

“Keeping vulnerable children safe is one of the most important duties local authorities carry out and any deterioration in the performance of Northamptonshire children’s services cannot continue,” said Mr Brokenshire.

An extra commissioner “will help to stabilise and improve the service so each and every child receives the protection they deserve”, he added. “The commissioner would also help the authority decide how best to deliver children’s services after the potential local government reorganisation in Northamptonshire.”

Mr Newsam has been recommended for the role, which will be a non-executive appointment. Representations on the proposal will be considered before a final decision is made.

Northamptonshire already has two commissioners in the form of ex-Lincolnshire CC chief executive Tony McArdle and Brian Roberts, former deputy chief executive of Leicestershire CC.

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